STOP SINNING OR SOMETHING WORSE MAY HAPPEN
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
The man had been sick for thirty eight years. The man had been at the healing pool of Bethesda, but every time the opportunity to get healed came, others went ahead of him, and for years he kept missing the healing opportunity. Jesus comes and heals him on Sabbath and tells him to take his mat and go home. The man gets healed, carries his mat and leaves. The religious leaders meet him and instead of praising God that he is healed, they accuse him of carrying a mat on sabbath. If someone has not been to church for a long time and when they show up, the first thing you notice is that they smell alcohol, or they are poorly dressed, or the song they sang praising God is not in our taste, you are not of Christ. The leaders in their zeal missed the point. The man told the leaders that he didn’t know who healed him, but whoever it was told him to carry his mat. Later on the healed man met Jesus who told him the words in our text today. Stop sinning or something worse may happen!
The man’s sickness for thirty eight years was because of sin that he had committed and knew about it. All suffering in the world is brought about by sin. Sins we commit or just the fact that we are in a sinful world. Jesus reminds the man that you are well again. You used to be well, until you sinned and was punished with sickness for thirty eight years. Now that you are well, don’t sin again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen!
After punishment for thirty eight years do you expect that someone hasn’t learnt the lesson and can go back to the same sin? Oh yes. Sin is so deceptive that punishment even for the longest time will not deter the sinner from returning to the same sin that caused him such suffering. Jesus actually meant that, this man can actually go back and commit the same sin that put him through such painful suffering. Have you been punishing anyone hoping they will change? You may need to rehabilitate them to Christ. Punishment doesn’t change anyone. Are you punishing your children hoping they change? Punishing your spouse? Punishing your boyfriend or girlfriend? Punishing your relatives? Punishing your workers? Punishing your neighbours? Even if you punish them for the longest time in the most painful way, they will repeat the very things you are trying to deter them from. Punishment has its role, but pray for them and woo them to the way of Christ. Only Christ’s power can help them sin no more. Stop sinning or something worse may happen!
Did Jesus say something worse may happen? Thirty eight years away from home is not worse? Thirty eight years sick lying in a mat day and night is not worse? Thirty eight years of missing healing opportunity is not worse? Jesus said, sin can cause something worse than that. Sin can cause painful death or eternal death in hell. We need to thank God for the experiences He lets us go through, even those which are punishment for sins we committed. We thank God because, it could have been worse, but He tempered the experience with His mercy. It could have been worse. Do you feel your life now is going through a bad experience? It could get worse. Do you feel the punishment you are experiencing is too much and too unfair? It could get worse. Stop sinning or something worse may happen!
When Jesus tells him to stop sinning, He implies that the man has decisions to make. We don’t stop sinning just because we want, we need power from God. However we need to make certain decisions for God’s power to be accessible to us. We need to confess and repent our sins. We need to ask God for the Holy Spirit. There is something we can do as God empowers us not to sin again. Stop sinning. Do what you must do. There are places to stop visiting. There is a new routine you need to develop. There is a rehabilitation centre you need to check in. There are friends you must stop contacting. There are secret friends you must immediately cut communication with. There are financial habits you need to change. There is something you must stop, it is in your will and domain to stop, God can’t do it for you. God will do the rest, but do your part and stop whatever it is. Stop sinning or something worse may happen!
Dear God we are grateful for our suffering, because if it wasn’t for your grace and mercy, clearly something worse could have happened. Now we plead that you may heal us today and now. Remind us and help us to stop sinning…because we know it could get worse than it already is. In Jesus name, Amen!